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Friday, August 28, 2020

85,000

85,000.  That's roughly the number of acres that make up Michaux State Forest in Central Pennsylvania.  One would think that after 15 years of mountain biking in the forest that it would be hard to find something new to ride, but the 85,000 acres makes Michaux a big place.  Actually...really big!  There are certain spots that I love where the forest seems to just engulf everything.  I know that there are cars and roads and buildings and telephone poles down there...but the forest just swallows it all up.  The sensory experience...the breeze blowing through the trees, the green that stretches as far as the eyes can see, and the fresh smell of the blossoming mountain laurel...is so rejuvenating.  Nothing man-made or unnatural.  Just the forest.

From 800 feet up the forest seems to engulf everything. -- July 7, 2020

85,000 acres allows for so many possibilities.  Even so, it can be easy to fall into the routine of riding the same familiar trails.  I wanted this summer to be different, unique, and even a little bit special.  There are just so many trails camouflaged from view when looking down from the rock vistas in the forest.  Trails that I wanted to discover for myself.  So armed with an updated Purple Lizard Map, a segment finder, and a little bit of hearsay I set out to ensure that, this summer, every single Michaux ride would include at least one "new to me" trail.

MONDAY, MAY 25, 2020 -- MEMORIAL DAY RIDE WITH BRENT SHIRK



"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

A newly logged area of Dead Woman's Hollow Trail, 3 Mile Trail, and a small section on top of Woodrow Road that is called Purgatory Rocks on the Purple Lizard Map.

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

Nothing easy about this one! On this first ride of the summer we climbed over 2,100 feet in just over fifteen miles!  Our Memorial Day extravaganza included, not just the "new to me" trails listed above, but Grave Ridge and my first ride UP Dead Woman's Hollow Road in eight years. 

Dave Raymond and Brent Shirk. -- May 25, 2020


Brent Shirk on Grave Ridge Trail. -- May 25, 2020


All smiles at the bottom AND the top of Dead Woman's Hollow Road. -- May 25, 2020


3 Mile Trail really is three miles long! -- May 25, 2020


State Forest Boundary marker on a tree along 3 Mile Trail -- May 25, 2020


Navigating a log build up in Michaux. -- May 25, 2020

JUNE 9, 2020 --  A TON OF CLIMBING WITH BRENT SHIRK AND TIM SINDLINGER


"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

A super cool switchback that veered off of Purgatory Rocks and down to Sunset Rocks Trail.

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

What was short on miles was made up for with a massive 650 foot climb between miles four and six.  Then we got lost.  I literally got turned around and couldn't orient myself in the correct direction.  Ultimately we got ourselves straightened out and back on the correct path.
Tim ended up taking a short cut out...but Brent and I really enjoyed descending down the other side of that 650 foot climb. 

Making our way to the top of Woodrow Road.  Dave Raymond, Brent Shirk, and Tim Sindlinger. -- June 9, 2020


Playing on the rocks near the top of Woodrow Road. -- June 9, 2020


JUNE 13, 2020 -- EPIC RIDE WITH CHRIS KELLER



"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

We rode the entirety Ridge Trail until it eventually connected to Buck Ridge Trail.

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

I told Chris that I had an ambitious ride planned...that it would include a little bit of everything...and that it would be around 18ish miles.  Well, it did include a little bit of everything...rock gardens, fire road descents, single track, vistas with amazing views, and a ton of mountain laurel in full bloom...but I was a little off with the mileage.  What I predicted would be 18 miles turned out to be over 25!  Such an epic ride.


Appreciating the mountain laurel in Michaux State Forest. -- June 13, 2020


Taking flight in Michaux. -- June 13, 2020


A perfect day and a very long ride with Chris Keller. -- June 13, 2020


JULY 7, 2020 -- RIDING  IN THE FOG WITH MATT LINNANE AND TIM SINDLINGER



"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

We rode a super cool connector trail that leads from Buck Ridge Trail, through an area labeled on the map as the Black Swamp, and up to Ridge Trail just south of Ridge Road.

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

This thirteen mile ride through Michaux State Forest, which was front loaded with "new to us" trials, a ton of single track, a descent down Vista Trail, a field trip off the beaten path to check out the remains of a 1930s Girl Scout Camp swimming pool...all while riding through a thick, low hanging fog...was super fun. Heck, even if we didn't do all that stuff...just the fact that we were graced, for the first time this summer, with the presence of Red Beard, himself...Matt Linnane...made this ride special.  


Finding my way through the fog. -- July 7, 2020


Matt pausing for a selfie. -- July 7, 2020


This orange butterfly hitchhiked down Vista Trail on my Camelbak. -- July 7, 2020


Riding rocks in Michaux. -- July 7, 2020


Finishing up our ride with a descent down Vista Trail. -- July 7, 2020



A photo of the 1934 Girl Scout Camp swimming pool. -- July 7, 2020



Remains of the 1934 Girl Scout Camp swimming pool.  Michaux State Forest. -- July 7, 2020


JULY 14, 2020 -- UP WOODROW ROAD WITH MATT AND TIM



"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

Various single tracks that zigzag up Woodrow Road and a section of Camp Michaux (which I have hiked before...but never ridden.)

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

"Hey...let's, for fun, climb to the top of Woodrow Road," said very few people ever.  Our goal was to ride the super fun and rocky single track off of Purgatory Rocks again.  In the process we zigzagged our way up Woodrow Road on various single tracks...a few of which I had never been on.  Ultimately, we had no choice but to ride the top part of the gravel road in the summer heat.  A tough climb...but very rewarding.  The back side didn't disappoint us...especially when we took an unplanned detour on the trails through Camp Michaux.


It was a long, hot haul...but I made it to the top!  -- July 14, 2020


Navigating Purgatory Rocks. -- July 14, 2020


Taking the trail through Camp Michaux. -- July 14, 2020


Matt descending single track. -- July 14, 2020


Pausing in Purgatory Rocks.  Dave Raymond, Tim Sindlinger. Matt Linnane. -- July 14, 2020


JULY 28, 2020 -- DEAD WOMAN'S HOLLOW WITH TIM



"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

An unmarked trail connecting the top and bottom of Dead Woman's Hollow Road.
 

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

Earlier this summer a hiker mentioned to me that there was an unmarked (in the woods and on the map) trial that led from the top to the bottom of Dead Woman's Hollow Road.  To get to it, Tim and I climbed Dead Woman's Hollow Road.  What started as a steep single track descent morphed into beautiful combination of streams, waterfalls, roots, and rock build ups. Our shortest ride of the summer (only 11+ miles) included over 2,400 feet of climbing!  That's a lot of uphill riding.  


Dead Woman's Hollow Trail -- July 28, 2020


Dave Raymond and Tim Sindlinger at the vista on Blueberry Trail. -- July 28, 2020


My Stumpjumer overlooking Michaux State Forest. -- July 28, 2020


Enjoying a trail through an area of the forest that was recently logged. -- July 28, 2020


Dave Raymond and Tim Sindlinger. -- July 28, 2020


Tim wrapping up the ride. -- July 28, 2020


AUGUST 2, 2020 -- SOLO IN MICHAUX

PARTNER IN CRIME

All by myself!


"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

Nothing new except for the reason for the ride and how it began....

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

A few months ago, my step-daughter asked me to help her find a location in the woods with a beautiful stream for her to take maternity pictures.  I couldn't think of any place more suitable than Tom's Run in Michaux State Forest.  Naturally, I took my mountain bike and had my son, Alex, drive me to to top of the Ridge.  My plan was just to ride down the mountain...but I found myself with a little extra time on the trails.  I find it amazingly cool that I ended up CLIMBING almost 600 feet in this ride even though I started it at the top of the ridge.  Michaux is awesome.

Mia and Kevin taking maternity photos in Michaux.  -- August 2, 2020

AUGUST 11, 2020 -- ATV TRAIL RIDING WITH MATT AND TIM



"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

Piney Ridge Trail and Huckleberry Trail

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

I really tried to switch things up with this one and planned a ride solely centered around the ATV trails south of Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  I wasn't sure how this would be received by Matt and Tim...but our seventeen mile ride proved to be one of my favorites this summer.  The ride was highlighted by a 400 foot descent in less than a mile on Huckleberry Trail, a fun ride on Grave Ridge, and the huge black bear we saw crossing State Route 233!

A day of fire road riding! -- August 11, 2020


I'll be your Huckleberry! -- August 11, 2020


ATV trails are rocky and fun! -- August 11, 2020 




Dave Raymond, Matt Linanne, and Tim Sindlinger enjoying a ride that mostly consisted of ATV trails.  -- August 11, 2020

AUGUST 18, 2020 -- BIG FLAT WITH MATT


"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

The entirety of the Canada Hollow Trail. 


WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

Matt and I saved this ride for the final ride of our summer.  Big Flat is an area that I've ridden...but not on any kind of regular basis.  My knowledge of the area is minimal...requiring Matt and I to pull out our maps quite often.  I got to tell you, I really enjoyed mapping out the ride while we were on the go.  It made for quite the adventure.  Matt's main objective for the day was to ride Astronomy Trail and it's more than two miles of descending single track.  Half way through the ride we suffered our first major mechanical of the summer when my rear derailleur snapped in half.  We completed some single speed conversion therapy with my Stumpjumper so that we could make our way back up to the Big Flat parking lot.  Regardless of how it ended...this ride was quite the adventure!



Matt and I heading out to explore the area of the forest south of Shippensburg Road.  -- August 18, 2020


Making Matt's day by riding Astronomy Trail.  He's always wanted to ride it. -- August 18, 2020


Matt descending Astronomy Trail. -- August 18, 2020





Riding Astronomy Trail. -- August 18, 2020


Such a fun ride.  I loved pulling the maps out and planning our next trail. -- August 18, 2020



Matt and Wildcat Trail. -- August 18, 2020


A normal derailleur doesn't look like this!  -- August 18, 2020


Doing a little surgery on my bike!  -- August 18, 2020


I started my ride with eleven speeds and ended with one...but I finished!-- August 18, 2020


Descending the trail under power lines in Michaux on my newly converted "single speed." -- August 18, 2020

I've been riding in Michaux now for almost 20 years...and this year I saw more different parts of the forest than I have since I first started riding there.  Breaking our of our pattern of the same old- same old and going out of our way to find "new to us" parts to ride really rekindled, at least in me, a sense of adventure and excitement.  The great thing is that I know that there are so many other trails out there that I still need to find and ride.  85,000 acres is, after all, a large area to uncover.  


Matt took this pic of me after our final ride off of Big Flat.  It's was an amazing summer of riding! -- August 18, 2020


Life is a journey...not a destination.




David A. Raymond -- August 28, 2020


I enjoyed more than one post ride root beer floats at the Twirly Top this summer! -- July 28, 2020


All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at 
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